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Midtown’s Weirdest & Brooklyn’s Finest

Last night was another installment of my bi-monthly comedy show “Always Be Funny.”  The West Village Edition on one Saturday a month has been consistently strong, even though it costs money, but the Free show on River Bar (located at 42nd and 10th in midtown) has been struggling for audience.  It started out strongly, but with winter months and just general disdain fewer people have made the trek over to 10th Avenue (it might as well be west of the Mississippi).  So last night was a pleasant surprise when I saw a decent group of people in the cozy Hells Kitchen bar.  But looks can be deceiving.

When I tell friends about my show on 10th Avenue I think this is how far they think they have to travel.

When emcee Pat Breslin got on stage he may have felt like Bruce Willis in the 6th Sense because of the 12 non-comedian patrons, 10 continued their three respective conversations as loudly as possible.  To be fair, they may felt like Malcolm X, i.e., “We didn’t land on Always Be Funny; Always Be Funny landed on us!”

But the show continued with Helen Hong doing strong crowd work to get them involved, included two condescending “stage manager,” who I think were just two lesbians who thought this tiny 10th Avenue bar was secluded enough to just have a quiet conversation about stage lighting and organic produce without being bothered by annoying mainstream heterosexuals.

Mick Diflo took the stage next and absolutely killed it. By killed I mean had all the comics laughing and people still largely ignoring the show.  However, I think he did get the crowd’s attention when he began describing his bloody penile discharge.  By this time the crowd was down to about 8, but a few patrons had come in and actually watched and started to appreciate the free entertainment, especially this older black couple who were enjoying the show so much and sitting at attention you’d think they were at a fancy bringer show at a soul sucking comedy club!

Jon Fisch took the stage next and started with a seemingly innocuous line.  There was a small poster on stage for an upcoming Cancer benefit at River Bar and Jon Fisch said (paraphrasing), “Perhaps Cancer is not the best stage prop for a show.” To which a drunk woman (who is actually becoming our show’s first consistent patron) said, “Cancer is not funny!” and continued to berate Jon for most of his set. 

After that I took the stage and did about 25 minutes of work on only 3 topics: the WNBA (16 minutes), relationships (5 minutes) and Obama (5 minutes).  Women’s professional sports just baffle me in general, but i have devised a new video game – it’s called Conquer The Bad Sports.  The first level will be men’s and women’s curling, but as you move up levels it just becomes women’s pro sports. First golf, then soccer and then the last level is the entire WNBA in one arena and you have to destroy them all to save the integrity of sports.  Then, when you think the game is over, you have to face off against the game’s bosses – Serena and Venus Williams.  And just when it looks like they are beating you – it is revealed that Venus is actually a man and she helps you defeat Serena.  Next Play Station franchise – you are welcome.

The WNBA's new slogan: We're like the NBA, but slower, less fun and with slightly smaller cocks.

So after my diatribe/set the show concluded with a solid set from Calvin Cato for the 3 people I had not exhausted with my comedic and legal destruction of the WNBA.  I then went home to chug bleach.  Hopefully our April Fools show does better at River or else I feel like it will be time to pull the plug on that location.  At this point it basically feels like Hilary Swank in Million Dollar Baby.

Like my show - she looks charming and talented, but will end up dying a slow and painful death.

But as if one bad crowd was not enough – this morning I attended a showing of Brooklyn’s Finest at the world famous Times Square AMC – with 25 screens and dozens of arrests each weekend.  The movie was actually quite entertaining (think Training Day), but here were the real highlights:

  • The movie started 25 minutes late for no reason.
  • The amount of pre-show talk was at a level I have never heard before in my life. 
  • The talk during the actual movie was surprisingly low, except for when there were breasts on screen (which is when I and twenty other gentlemen of color stood up and ran up and down the aisle screaming “Damn them titties look GOOD!”) and the young Latina sitting next to me who took a 6 minute phone call during the movie for what actually appeared to be a job interview or set up for a job interview.
  • The old white guy sitting behind me who just before the movie started said to himself, “I’m just glad this is not a midnight movie.  This is not one I’d see then.” Racist? Maybe, maybe not. But 100% right.
  • Per information I have been told by someone who used to manage at that location, there was definitely at least one plain clothes police officer at the movie.  That is a job I would love to have.  Carry a gun, shoot people who start sh*t at movies, watch movies while working, get a sick pension and cheat on your spouse a ton (I worked at the DA’s office so I have worked with cops).  Maybe it is time I pursued that.
  • The new trailer for Wall Street 2 is damn good.
Worth seeing if you like tension, violence and latina breasts.

The bottom line is if you find yourself on 42nd street on the west side of Manhattan there will be funny stuff happening. So catch a movie and come see us on April Fools’ Day at 830.

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If A Comedian Meets A Stripper Does Self Esteem…

The weekend started off in Philadelphia, as promised, for the Utah Jazz versus Philadelphia 76ers game.  The game seemed to generate less interest than one might even expect, despite our country’s love of Mormons, Jazz, patriotism and athletic black men.  It felt more like attending a conference for Detroit billionaires than an NBA game featuring two playoff teams from last year.

The Jazz won the game easily, which was surprising.  However, due to how close our seats were to the court and the fact that the arena was less than half full I felt uncomfortable shouting or cheering too much because I really believed the players could hear me.

This was taken during the game.  Obviously Jazz-76ers was a hot ticket.
This was taken during the game. Obviously Jazz-76ers was a hot ticket.
So the weekend started off positively with a win for my squad, much to the chagrin of my two south Jersey bred comedian friends who came to the game with me: Pat Breslin and Jim Dodge.   We then went to a Piano Bar in Philly to meet up with some friends I used to work with.  I learned an important lesson that night.  If you have two bartender options – an extremely hot woman in her early 20s or a slightly overweight man in his late 30s or early 40s you get your drinks from the dude.  The bartenderette seemed to be convinced that her breasts and beautiful eyes could get her a pass for making weak drinks.  And of course it did, but she went too far wen she returned $6 in change in the form of a $5 and a $1 bill.  Proper etiquette is six singles.  So of course I left her the $5.  So the lesson here is don’t ever get your drinks, even one, from a hot bartenderette because all her tricks will most likely work.  But I really think she liked me.

That night I crashed at the home of Pat Breslin’s parents.  I literally felt like a kid sleeping over in elementary school, mostly because they were so friendly and because my feet dangled over the edge of the bed I was sleeping in.  But it was awesome and a great way to nurse a hangover.  Sadly I had to run because in a move of unbelievably poor planning I had to go back to NYC to change for Pat’s bachelor party in Atlantic City that night.  So I took an 1140 train to NYC, ran home, watched Live at Gotham, cursed the show Live at Gotham, showered, had some multivitamins and ran back to Penn Station for a 3 pm train to Atlantic City.

When I realized that I would be on a bachelor party trip with approximately twenty guys (dudes and brahs) from south jersey I just assumed that the night would be some shameful mix of Very Bad Things, The Hangover and The Accused.  But then I noticed that I was only one of a few guys not actually married on the trip.  I guess it was pretty standard fare for a bachelor party, but I did have some learning experiences.  Among the things I had said or thought during the adult portion of the night:

1) “I guess?”  My response when a stripper asked me hypothetically what I would do to her and provided me with only one option that I actually had and have no desire to do, but felt that strip club conversations, like Improv games, require affirmative answers so the game doesn’t end.

2) “What’s with all the tattoos on these strippers?” I mean you strip so we already know that you hate yourself and your family, so why be redundant with self-mutilation?

3) “I think I am going to walk in front of a moving car” when a stripper asked me what I did for a living, I said “comedy, its fun, but tough, to which the woman who removed her clothes for a living told me “to follow my dreams.”  When a woman with more emotional and physical scar tissue than the cast of Keeping Up With the Kardashians is in a position to be a motivational speaker, the person being spoken to is making poor life choices.  So apparently my job respect rankings need to be re-evaluated.  I now present you with a correct re-ranking:

1) President of The US

77) gym teacher

133) stripper

134) comedian

135) porn fluffer

After strip club festivities it was time for clubbing.  We all went to Providence at the Tropicana.  I must admit I was pretty impressed with the talent level of Atlantic City (especially after initially seeing at dinner what was unanimously decided to be the ugliest bachelorette party in the history of the Animal Kingdom).  Perhaps the recession has driven out some of the nastier looking women to Foxwoods or the Harrahs in Delaware that the Amtrak passes, but Atlantic city club going couples all seem to fit the exact same profile:

Man – 5’7″, lots of hair product, a striped button-down shirt, a look of slightly misplaced confidence (which may be explained by the woman)

Woman – 5’5″, skin tight, low cut dress, two of the following three add-ons (breasts, hair color, tattoo) – ok so maybe nasty(skanky at least) looking still, but the good kind I guess.

Ice T and Coco sporting the "Atlantic City" look
Ice T and Coco sporting the "Atlantic City" look

Apparently, the strip club, the dozen $14 drinks at Providence and the box of cookies I ate at 230 am were too much for my emotional and physical makeup because I turned into a bulimic at around 3 am.  All in all a good weekend.  This week takes me to Cleveland via Amtrak.  Fun fun fun.

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Breslinapalooza: From Utah to Atlantic City

This weekend will most likely spawn a major post on Monday, so here is a teaser for what is to come.

Friday

I am meeting Pat Breslin and Jim Dodge (together the three of us created the now defunct Internal Laughter, the LFO of comedy show trios) at the Wachovia Center (so I am guessing I will not suffer any ATM fees) to watch the Utah Jazz play the Philadelphia 76ers. 

Dodge, Cauvin, Breslin
Dodge, Cauvin, Breslin

I will be sporting a Utah Jazz jersey (I wore Millsap to the Knicks-Jazz game earlier this week, which leaves me with either Kirilenko or Williams, both likely to elicit less than friendly responses. However, since I am with two 76ers fans, as well as the fact that it is not an Eagles game, and the fact that I am 6’7″ should all be enough to offset the usual barrage of incestuous and sexual orientation related epithets that usually flow at professional sporting events.   However, my planned outfit may still be too provocative:

I will have you know Philly that your famed hero Rocky wore shorts that were only slightly longer than mine.
I will have you know Philly that your famed hero Rocky wore shorts that were only slightly longer than mine.

 

The game is but a prelude, however to Saturday’s main event.

Saturday

Off to Atlantic City for Pat’s bachelor party.  What do you get when you combine one giant comic from NYC, 15 dudes and brahs from South Jersey in Atlantic City?  I am not sure, but I think of what comedian Robert Kelly said about Vegas on his CD Just The Tip: “Atlantic City is like Vegas With AIDS.”  Well you better call me sub-Sahara Africa because I will be betting on black all night.

If Atlantic City were a boxer.
If Atlantic City were a boxer.

Sunday

Church-Shower-Repeat until I feel better.

Non-incriminating recap to come on Monday.

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The Best Show No One Saw

Yesterday seemed promising.  Had probably the best lineup yet at Always Be Funny (two of America’s best up and coming comics – Amy Schumer & Julian McCullough, along with some of NYC’s best unheralded talents Brett Anderson, Mick DiFlo and Pat Breslin).   The lastshow had poor attendance except for a group of sh*theads who just kept talking loudly and drunkenly during the show.  Despite the negativity that permeates comedy and stand up comedians, the eternal optimist in us makes up excuses for bad shows (footnote Harris Bloom).  Mine was that it was the Thursday before Labor Day weekend.  But last night I hoped would be different.

I got to the bar around 8 for an 830 pm show and was happy to see that no one was there except the bartender.  No people at least means no hecklers.  A few people arrived, some to watch the show, some by accident and some to stand outside and talk for an hour before leaving.  All in all the audience of non-comics (though some comics did come by to show support – thank you) was 5.  We actually had more television credits (Amy Schumer carrying the bulk of them)than audience members!  That is a ratio that should never happen in comedy, especially for a free show.  The failure has to be mine as the promoter of the show, but it baffled me.  Is Thursday night the new Monday morning?

Meanwhile, as the show was starting I got a phone call from my girlfriend who was in my apartment taking advantage of my premium HD cable, telling me that the largest cockroach she has ever seen is scampering around my apartment.  Because one large bug generally makes me feel like I am in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, at that moment, my home did not even feel like a sanctuary from the comedy hell that was occurring.

Basically me around large bugs.
Basically me around large bugs.

Every comic was delivering good stuff and was getting as good as could be expected from 5 audience members.  Then I got on stage and delivered a rant that was worthy of an absent-minded dictator at the UN (footnote Jason Good).  Fortunately a documentary team was there filming so a whimsical look at abortion, racism and the friendless existence of comedians should be coming to an independent cinema near you in the future.   My personal favorite remark last night was: “This show, as a metaphor for life, is the point in a man’s life when he is in an alleyway sucking di-k for drugs.  You may see jokes and sarcasm, but this is the low point in my comedy career right now – a metaphorical back alley blow job.” My second favorite was calling myself Daniel Plainview (There Will Be Blood), but without the mansion and a bowling alley to kill someone on.

Some cite Seinfeld or Pryor as influences.  Here's mine apparently.
Some cite Seinfeld or Pryor as influences. Here's mine apparently.

6+ years in and this is the difficulty with comedy.  I am a nobody in the business, so I only have few fans based on some road work.  But I am not new at this so all my friends have moved onto more important things, like fantasy football and masturbation.  And obviously I am not alone in these feelings since Brett Anderson did a great new bit on purging friends.  I guess the lifestyle I have to embrace is hitting me hard, but I will just have to do to it what I do to a woman who bumps into me on the subway: hit back harder.

So I got home and basically napalmed my entire apartment with extra strength roach killer, while I bitched about my show.  I slept poorly, but woke up and saw a giant dead water bug by my desk.  And that is when I knew today would be a good day.

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Sunday Bloody Sunday

First Rihanna, then an anti-“Gentile” heckler.

This weekend I learned of a few widespread rumors concerning Rihanna and Chris Brown.  Apparently love has a lot to do with it for the 21st century’s Ike and Tina.  Or at least daddy issues.  Rihanna is said to be taking Chris Brown back, which sends an awful message to young women in abusive relationships.  After sitting in the complaint room of the Bronx District Attorney’s Office for 3 1/2 years telling abused women that they should leave their abusive boyfriends or husbands it will be a tougher sell to to get Maria to leave Jorge if Rihanna won’t leave Chris.  Furthermore, as if trying to undo the symbolic value of Barack Obama in a one-two punch, Rihanna is also rumored to be preggers with Chris Brown’s spawn.  So I guess Rihanna is getting kicked inside and out.  I assume either Pharell or Timbaland is mixing a beat for Chris Brown’s newest single “Forgive Me” or some ridiculous song like that.  We have forgiven men peeing on women (R Kelly), men hitting women (Tommy Lee) and men swallowing women whole (Macy Gray) so I see no reason that with the right PR campaign, the right beat and the right stupid American public why Chris Brown can’t make a comeback.

Well, last night I wanted to make a few current event jokes (hoping certain Jews lost money with Madoff, Chris Brown/Rihanna jokes, talking about Obama shattering MC Hammer’s record for most money spent by a black man in one day), but I was interrupted by a heckler at the Goldhawk before I could start a joke.  I have a sort of repressed temper that used to be really bad.  Last night it almost came out, but instead this heckler simply ruined the end of what was a ridiculously great show.  Here’s a recap:

  • Jim Dodge led off the show brilliantly.  We have our 3rd big crowd in a row – woo-hoo.
  • Pat Breslin steps up and talked about his new engagement – laughs ensue, everybody happy.
  • Jess Burkle, who may be one of the quickest, sharpest comics I’ve ever seen on any level absolutely destroyed the room.
  • Mark Normand – with the toughest job of the night is equal to the challenge and killed.
  • Helen Hong goes up and this is where I start to smell trouble.  Retarded drunk guy comes in and is speaking a little loudly and trying to inject himself into Helen’s routine, but she dealt with him quickly and powered through her routine maintaining the great energy of the room while he sort of stayed quiet.  But like a bad plot of 24 he was just the opening plot line that ends around episode 15 to be usurped by an even worse plot.  Helen Hong’s set ends, enter the The Heckling Jewish Guy (HJG)
  • Jim brings me up to my Craig Ferguson credit:

HJG: Ferguson sucks

J-L: Alright – thanks man.  Any Jewish people here pissed about Madoff(about to go into a Madoff joke)?

HJG: I’m Jewish – right here. Fu-king gentiles are mad because they lost all their money with Madoff.

J-L: OK buddy, let’s be serious.  (scowling at him so that his entire party is telling him to be quiet and apologize for him – mood lost for the show which was one of our best ever)

HJG: Yes, let’s be serious.

J-L (wanting to plant the base of the mic stand through his skull and give him the worst beating a Jew has seen since Jesus): Jim, can we get some staff in here please (sitting meditating, forehead vein pulsing)?

HJG: (leaving with friends): I’m Jewish, Fu-k you gentile (these were the words I heard, perhaps in different order).

I do not deal well with hecklers, especially drunk and stupid ones – they are sort of like the Terminator – “they can’t be bargained with. they can’t be reasoned with.  they won’t stop ever, until the show is dead.”  My response is all or nothing.  Either I let it pass with no response or I really ruin the show by saying something like “SHUT YOUR FU-KING MOUT MOTHERFU-KER!”  I have found the passive route more likely to give me an aneurysm, but maintains a better show.  

I should have probably left the stage and yelled at Pat and Jim – “keep him here!” and then come back while Jim and Pat are having drinks with him and gone Goodfellas on him.  There’s always next show.